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LIGO Livingston Observatory NewsLIGO Livingston Observatory Construction Update
New Student Employee at the LIGO Livingston Observatory
A Most Unusual Year!
Each month brings us closer to final completion of the major facilities work in Livingston. Both end stations have now been baked out by Process Systems International, as has the left manifold at the corner station. The right arm Beam Tube has been vacuum tested, found to be leak free, and we are in the final stages of evaluating the left arm. The half-arm nearest to the corner station has passed the air leak test, and in the arm's other half, Rai Weiss is completing analysis of the residual gas measurements to verify its quality. We have been living and working in our new buildings since early Spring, and are still arranging our gear--and ourselves!--into all the corners, nooks and crannies that only become visible once you start occupying a new home.
Four successive photos showing the Livingston Vacuum Equipment being prepared for "bake-out."
In preparation for bake out of the Beam Tube here in Livingston, Cecil Franklin and Kerry Stiff have begun to work closely with Bill Althouse and Mark Lubinski to replicate the various preparations that were undertaken at the Hanford Observatory: things like coordination meetings, cleaning the Beam Tube enclosures, ordering parts, and placing contracts for the services needed.
Additionally, we are preparing the various labs for use once Detector installation begins early next year: installing cable trays, ordering furniture, cabinets, de-ionized water system, electrical test equipment and the like. We are also setting up additional office spaces for visitors in anticipation that many guests and participants in gravitational-wave research will visit us to join in the installation and commissioning activities.
Slade Maurer joined our staff last week here at the LIGO Livingston Observatory. Slade, 21, is a senior at Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU), which is located in Hammond, about 15 miles to the east of Livingston. SLU is primarily an undergraduate institution, with an enrollment of 15,000. Slade is majoring in computer science with a scientific concentration, and he is minoring in math.
At SLU, Slade has been maintaining the UNIX and LINUX systems. He has been working with Prof. Dan McCarthy, a plasma physicist, on the optimization of software which models non-linear features of the magnetic field in a Tokamak reactor. Slade has restructured the software and distributed it to run on a PC network of 22 Pentium(TM) boxes over a 100 megabit ethernet network. He is currently applying to graduate schools to continue his studies in computer science. His interests in this field include parallel distributed processing, neural networks, and problems in large-scale data analysis.
At the LIGO Livingston Observatory, Slade is assisting LIGO's systems administrator, Larry Wallace, with the support of the computer network . Among Slade's hobbies are travelling, sailing, and enjoying sushi and other ethnic foods. He has a Snark which he sails on Lake Pontchartrain. Born in Maine, Slade grew up in California, New Jersey, and Louisiana. We welcome him into the LIGO fold.
Rain! Rain! Rain!
And also, Rain and more Rain!
The photo at left illustrates what the weather here in Livingston usually is, and what everyone expects it to be year after year. And after having almost thirty inches of precipitation during the month of January, we all thought, "Okay, here we go again." But this year it was not to be. From February onward, the rains completely disappeared. By June we had a veritable drought. By July, our usually lush grasses had turned to a brown windswept prairie. We barely managed to keep alive the few shrubs and trees planted around the Observatory corner station.
Then came the hurricane season. Two of them descended on Louisiana like the fists of a wrathful deity. We braced for the worst. Mark Coles, our leader who lives in Mandeville, had to evacuate his home--family and all--moving to Texas for temporary shelter. Luckily both storms missed our site almost completely, and it still barely rained!
Now the year is almost gone. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we are still in a drought condition, hand watering our shrubs and trees, our grass still a motley brown. When will the rains finally return? It may be better not to ask. For all I know, next year we may be imploring the rains to stop, and wishing the sun would come dry us out from all that water.